Well, I have three more days left of the day job. Three. Then the days of regular weekly paychecks are over. Small as they sometimes are, they are always there, directly deposited into my account and enough for me to pay my bills and have some extras. I’ve never been wealthy. There have been times in my life when I lived pretty high. In Phoenix, when I was working corporate payroll and my then partner owned her own business, we had quite a lot of disposable income. But we weren’t happy, and the money went into things to try to fill the emptiness… drinking, shopping, loading up on *stuff* because it gave us some sense of moving up in the world, even if we both acknowledged on some level that material possessions didn’t make us happier.
Fast forward to the person I am today. I made a decision to make myself into the kind of person I admire. That person is full of love and warmth. That person has compassion. That person believes that human beings are basically good and some of them need help. That person believes in simplifying and getting rid of attachments to “things.” That person believes that in living simply, one can live far below the financial “needs” of most human beings.
It’s kind of a Zen thing. Everything is our own choice. You can choose to quit your job. There may be consequences, such as not being able to afford to go out to eat, or buy that new DVD, or have a big car payment, but you can make the choice.
Here it is. I am choosing freedom over financial security. I could continue working until I finish my degree, then get a better job. I could continue to try to fit in little bits of writing around the day job. I could be secure in the knowledge that if I want to buy a new laptop, I can get one or if I want to have cable tv or fashionable clothing, I could swing it. I could have a mortgage and a car payment. But I would be a slave to someone else’s demands on my time.
Instead, I am about to be a slave to my own demands and it scares me because I can be really hard on myself, insisting I get up at 6 AM to start writing, making long lists of all my assignments and checking them off one by one. Or I can find myself lazying around, running errands, checking facebook, walking the dog, looking at flowers, pondering the greater mysteries of the universe, doing a new Yoga video, listening to music, or reading “just a few pages” of this Neil Gaiman book. I’m undisciplined and inconsistent. Easily distracted. Mildly lazy. Ridiculously flighty. Even now, I should be reading a chapter on the English invasion of America and the American Indian reaction to it, but instead, I’m writing this blog and texting with my girlfriend and trying to decide what to make for lunch because my sister is coming over from work and needs something to eat. I sometimes think I need a life coach.
Still, even without the steady paycheck, I am feeling a sense of peace about my impending unemployment. I don’t have a lot of bills. I don’t have to pay rent or utilities. I don’t have a car payment. And I have recently moved into a love that fulfills me in a kind and healthy way. I keep half-expecting that being so happy and in love will stifle my creativity, but so far, I am feeling more inspired – driven to write more, driven to want to get caught up on all of my to-dos, so I can come to her with a clean slate, the proverbial unemployed girlfriend who is living below the poverty level, but who can count on that royalty check coming in every month.
And I am now free and on my own time. I got up this morning and actually wrote for a couple of hours, something that has been failing me in the last few weeks of long hours at the job. I gathered up a big bag of clothes and a box of books to be donated. I drove my mother on some errands. I wrote down my school assignments, though I haven’t actually started working on any of them yet.
So, I’m free. Free to take off to parts unknown. Free to travel the open road, as long as I have enough money to pay for gas. Free to go spend a month in Iowa with my girlfriend. Free to make my own choices, good or bad. And I am ready and willing to face the consequences of those choices.
This is all on me now. I need to settle in to marketing my book. I am responsible for that. At the day job, if I am lazy and don’t work as hard, I still make the same paycheck. If I am excited and work my butt off, I still make the same paycheck. When I market, I sell more books. When I get lazy and don’t market, I don’t sell books. When I write, I get closer to completing the second novel which will bring me closer to not having to ever worry about having a day job again. When I don’t work on it, I am hurting no one by myself. When I write essays to submit to contests, I am helping to market the novel and the future novels. When I let deadlines slip by, I am wasting my opportunity to get my name out there. I have to believe in myself enough to put myself out there and make this happen for me.
It makes it easier that I adore my little novel and that I believe in the second one, as well. I like “Man Enough.” I think it is a wonderful book. It’s funny and cute and loving and the people who have read it have told me that they love it. (And not just my sisters, but perfect strangers as well.) I believe this book deserves a wider audience and I believe the next one will as well.
So I believe in myself. And now, that belief needs to carry me through this fact: I am always touting personal responsibility and taking possession of our own choices and now I am going to have to live that. No matter what else happens, from this moment on, I am personally responsible for my own success or failure.
That is both powerfully awesome and incredibly terrifying. And I believe that I can do it. I believe in me. I believe.